Vampires fell beneath Penitent's shining blades in numbers too vast to count. Like a spinning wheel of fire he charged through their ranks, cutting them down like blades of grass -- until a voice stops him in his tracks.
The woman before him looks much like her mother, only her eyes, hard and glinting like onyx, hinting at her father's visage. He can hear the child that was in her voice, and how it has been changed by dark roads traveled.
"I am glad my master gave me this opportunity to bring us together,”
the young woman says, a bloody blade in her hand. She gestures to two hulking vampires, and Penitent takes a deep breath as the battered bodies of Karl and Audrey are dragged into view.
Karl, with a torn wing and missing arm, could barely whisper, "Papa ..." Audrey, missing an eye and run impaled by a spear through her stomach, was more feisty, spitting and cursing her captors before the woman with Penitent's eyes smacks her across the face.
"Father ... Lay down your arms and tell your allies to surrender. I will gift you these two broken vessels,”
she says, before winking at something behind him ...
"Illusion is a tool of the weak,"
the apok says, already well aware of the demonic familiar approaching from behind.
It thinks itself the hunter, when it is the prey.
The hulking red mass moved swiftly and quietly through the vampire ranks in gaseous form. It took physical form as it closed the gap, half a ranger's corpse hanging from its mouth.
”Peakaboo... Me love you! Hahaha,”
it chortled as it swung a flaming hammer toward the apok's head.
Splinters of rock fly where the blow strikes the ground, but Penitent is gone -- leaping forward, he beheads the two vampire guards holding Karl and Audrey, before crossing his blades and cutting his daughter -- or rather, the Master Vampire that had been cloaked in her image -- into three pieces.
Before the corpses touch the ground the apok pivots, launching himself back toward the 20-foot-tall hellspawn, still struggling to wrench its hammer out of the ground. Running up the haft of the hammer like a ramp, Penitent launches himself upward.
Using Durendal like a spike, he slams the silver blade into the massive fiend's shoulder, using the blade to pull himself even higher. Fury's Fang hungry teeth scream as the apok brings the enchanted chainsword around in a brutal swing that cleaves into the demon's face, chewing through flesh and gristle and tearing free its lower jaw.
Penitent is thrown clear as the demon familiar screams in agony, black ichor spraying from the grievous wounds.
"NO THAIR! NO THAIR!"
it screams, struggling to form words with its ruined face. "YOU THEATING THEATER! I'N TELLING!"
Spraying black blood and acidic tears, the demon flaps its great wings and flies off, disappearing into the darkness as the battle slowly turns in the favor of the Resolute heroes.
Making sure no foes remain nearby, Penitent moves to Karl and Audrey. With the death of the Master Vampire, the glamour that had cloaked them was lifted, as well. Neither was as badly wounded as they had appeared, though cuts and bruises were plentiful.
"You made that big baby your bitch, Papa!"
Karl says. Giving the dead vampire that had been guarding him a savage kick, the redeemed brodkil begins rummaging under the corpse, where he retrieves his battle fury blade and celestial cell phone. "You better not have looked at my messages!"
Audrey takes Penitent's hand and lets him pull her to her feet.
"Your daughter ..."
she says, the tears in her eyes a reminder of the dark news Penitent still has to break to her.
"It wasn't her. I knew as soon as it called me 'Father.' She never called me that,"
Still, he was unsettled. While it hadn't been his daughter he killed, it had looked like her
. Which meant the vampire had seen her, knew enough to sound like her, too.
Which meant she had been here, perhaps was still here, in these black caverns.
The darkest depths of Hell held no fear for Penitent. But he feared to find out what purpose his daughter might have here. And who, or what, she might serve.